The Class of 2015: Running Back

Taking a look at the Rebels’ running back line signee …

Most of these updates will be plural in that first line, but there’s only one running back.

I profiled Eric Swinney in today’s print edition.

On a day when coaches love all their signees there was something different in Hugh Freeze’s tone and delivery when I asked him about Swinney.

If you’re only going to sign one running back he better be pretty good.

The Rebels didn’t need to sign multiple running backs because of numbers at the position, but they needed to sign someone they believe can help increase production at the position.

They had numbers last year, but no one really separated themselves early on as “the man” carrying the ball.

Ultimately Jaylen Walton became the most trusted running back as a hard runner with good vision and the shiftiness to off-set the lack of sprinter speed.

Regarding Swinney, Freeze said, “He has balance, talent, vision, toughness, a low center of gravity and pad level.”

So what does he not have?

“He probably does not have that top end speed that a few in the nation do have, but other than that, I would put him up against anybody.”

Swinney has the ratings. He’s a consensus four-star. 247, Rivals and ESPN list him among their top 20 running backs at Nos. 11, 12 and 17 respectively.

Measured at 5-10, 180 Swinney is not physically imposing.

If he is truly blessed with all the intangibles Freeze listed, however, he could emerge from a position group that will again be crowded in 2015.

Following a rare redshirt season for a junior college transfer Akeem Judd enters the picture, and at 6-0, 220 he’s the biggest back on the roster.

Jordan Wilkins has some size too. His role increased late in the season and included an Egg Bowl-securing touchdown pass to Cody Core.

Eugene Brazley is a year older, a rising sophomore who didn’t play much last year, though he had some interesting carries in mop-up duty at Vanderbilt.

The Ole Miss running backs need to be good enough to get some things done on their own behind a rebuilding offensive line. (Much more on that at the column link.)

The fact that there was no dominant player at the position combined with the list of intangibles in Freeze’s love letter to Swinney means the newest addition has the chance to carve out a role – maybe a big one – in his rookie season.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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